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Georgian elections and international observer missions

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, August 16
In Georgia as well as in post- Soviet countries, much attention is attributed to the importance of the international observer missions during elections. For the opposition, this offers a guarantee for the democratic conduction of the election process, whereas for the ruling power, they can brag about the fair and democratic environment to the international community. Therefore, the existence of such missions in Georgia is generally welcomed by all participant sides of the elections.

The opposition was first to demand a broad presence of observers in the country. The current administration also supported this idea and kept repeating that it would welcome the observers not only during Election Day but also before the elections. The opposition did the same.

However, the current situation shows that the elections have started, the date of the elections is known but there are no foreign observers whatsoever in Georgia. The opposition has begun to grumble. They are concerned that the announcement of the election date just 60 days before the actual elections, is constitutionally correct, but for international organizations, this is kind of short notice.

Election Day could have been declared at least three-months prior. The current administration meanwhile states that long-term observers tend to appear for the elections around 30-45 days before hand. For instance, according to MP David Darchiashvili, the Council of Europe is planning to send long-term missions in September.

What do those missions do? Mainly their long-term missions are to detect violations which appear during the pre-election period. These include the abuse of administrative resources and the attitudes of law enforcement bodies towards the opposition.

Now the media is covering the pre-election campaigning, investigating facts of violence and so on, while during Election Day itself, violations could be very minor as independent analysts like Kakha Kakhishvili suggests. In fact, the election technology is so developed and advanced that in fact elections are won before the election is finished itself, and the process goes smoothly in a quiet atmosphere. According to the election law observers could be registered by September 24. According to the data of August 11, there were already 12 organizations registered. The opposition still relies on the efficient activities of international observer missions, which should secure and safeguard the level of democracy for elections.

Skeptics however, are challenging the efficiently of the observer missions. Some cite the Presidential Elections in 2008, pointing out that they were definitely rigged, whereas the international observers assessed it as being fairly democratic.